Saturday, July 28, 2007

Summitt: Depression hurt star

The depression Chamique Holdsclaw battled throughout her WBNA career was probably the biggest role in her decision to retire from professional basketball, her college coach, Tennessee's Pat Summitt, said.

Holdsclaw, a six-time WNBA All-Star, shocked fans and her team, the Los Angeles Sparks when she decided to retire in June after playing five games in the 2007 season. Holdsclaw didn't give a reason for her retirement although she had earlier acknowledged bouts with depression.

Summitt said Holdsclaw first told her she was considering retirement while she was playing with the Washington Mystics. Summitt, who has worked as a consultant for the Mystics, flew to Washington "as a coach and a friend" and spent time with Holdsclaw.

"I said, "OK, you've got a game tomorrow. Let's just go play and see how you feel. If it's not in your heart, then you'll know,"' Summitt said at a Tennessee alumni event in Nashville on Thursday. "She told me after that game, "Coach, it's just not in my heart."'

Holdsclaw left Washington and played for a while in Valencia, Spain, returning to the U.S. in 2005 with a renewed desire to play in the WBNA and the Sparks as a new team.

She later said she left the Mystics because depression caused her to become increasingly withdrawn from her team, coaches and confidantes.

Summitt said Holdsclaw hasn't decided on what to do in the future but for now is enjoying life and not being in a routine.

"She just feels like it's best for her not to play if she can't bring it all every night," she said.

Holdsclaw was the WNBA's No. 1 overall pick in 1999 after leading Tennessee to three straight NCAA titles.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Anosike, Hornbuckle Help Lead USA Women to Pan Am Games Gold

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Riding a huge fourth quarter scoring explosion as a team and a 27-point individual scoring effort by Matee Ajavon (Rutgers / Newark, N.J.), the USA Women's Pan American Games Team (5-0) outscored host Brazil (4-1) 30-13 in the game's final quarter to record a 79-66 win and capture the Pan American Games gold medal Tuesday evening in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The victory kept the U.S. team's slate a perfect 5-0 and earned the Americans the gold medal, the United States' first gold medal in Pan American Games competition since 1987.

Rising Tennessee senior Nicky Anosike pumped in 10 points on 5-of-10 field goals with seven rebounds. She added a team-high four assists while recording two blocks and a steal. Lady Vol teammate Alexis Hornbuckle, who tied with a team-high nine rebounds, including four on the offensive glass, added five points. She registered three assists and a team-high two steals.

Playing in front of a loud partisan Brazil crowd that was clad in yellow and green and numbering over 13,000, the 2007 squad did what three teams that came before it were unable to do - win the gold. Since claiming gold in 1987, the USA had earned silver once (2003) and bronze twice (1991 and 1999) (note-the women's basketball competition was canceled for 1995 Pan American Games).

Saturday, July 21, 2007

All-Star forward Catchings to miss 2-to-3 weeks

Indiana Fever All-Star forward Tamika Catchings is expected to miss two to three weeks after she sustained a partial tear of the plantar fascia in her left foot in Friday's 89-80 loss to Detroit.

Catchings leads the Fever in points (16.8), rebounds (9.1), assists (4.6) and a league-high 3.15 steals.

"It certainly is unfortunate for us,'' Indiana head coach Brian Winters said, "but we have a deep team and we feel that we can still win and continue our winning edge.''

The Fever (16-5) entered Saturday tied with the Shock for the league's best record. With the regular season coming to a close Aug. 19, Catchings' return in the regular season is uncertain.

"We'll see how it goes,'' Winters said. "You never know with those things. We look forward to the time that she can come back and help us into the playoffs.''

Catchings is a two-time defensive player of the year and a four-time All-Star.

Friday, July 13, 2007

For Pack's Yow, award is reminder

ESPY winner recalls Valvano's help

Jim Valvano could always make Kay Yow laugh. An award named for her late friend made Yow smile again on Wednesday at the taping of the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles.

Yow, who coached the N.C. State women's basketball team to the NCAA Tournament round of 16 despite a recurrence of breast cancer, won the first Jimmy V ESPY Award for Perseverance.

Yow's speech and memories of her former Wolfpack colleague stood as the emotional highlight of the sports world's version of the Oscars, which will be shown on ESPN at 9 p.m. Sunday.

Yow told a story of how Valvano, whom she worked with for 10 years at N.C. State, cheered her during her first occurrence of breast cancer in 1987.

"He made me laugh the entire afternoon," Yow said during her speech. "I was in a lot of pain. That's when I first learned about no pain, no gain."

Yow missed two months of the 2006-07 season fighting breast cancer and enduring chemotherapy. She returned in January and led the Wolfpack to the ACC Tournament championship game and to the NCAA third round.

This is the first year the ESPYs have included the Jimmy V award, which goes to "those who have succeeded despite obstacles and hardships placed before them."

Valvano won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the first ESPYs ceremony in March 1993, where he delivered his memorable "Don't Give Up" speech. One month later, Valvano died of cancer.

Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt presented the award to Yow.

"The determination which she showed this past season embodied the very spirit of Jimmy V and certainly would have made her former North Carolina State colleague proud," Summitt said.

Predictably, Yow deferred the credit for the award to her coaching staff, who made the trip to Los Angeles, and her players.

"They were incredible," Yow said. "My staff and my team had a mind-set of 'I will,' not 'I'll try.' That was so uplifting to me."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Summitt's appearance a memory of a lifetime

For everything Pat Summitt has experienced during her astonishing coaching career, this might have been a first.

After all, it's not every day the Lady Vols basketball coach poses for pictures with a team that whipped her by 17 points.

In their second game of the Under 16 AAU national basketball tournament, foul trouble and poor decisions offensively by the Tennessee Heat resulted in a 53-36 loss to the West Virginia Rush.

It wasn't exactly what Summitt wanted to see from her team, which lost its first game earlier in the day to the Indiana SYF Players. Still, it didn't stop the Hall of Fame coach from taking time afterwards to sign autographs, and leave an enduring impression on a West Virginia team making its first national tournament appearance.

"When you have a group of kids that have never played in a national championship period, this is a new experience all in itself, but then you're talking about Pat Summitt," West Virginia coach Tony Lucas said.

Coming off her seventh national championship with the Lady Vols, Summitt was asked by her son Tyler to coach his AAU team, affording mom and son a chance to share a unique basketball and family adventure.

"She (coach Summitt) was talking about how she could help us and she was watching me play high school," Tyler said. "She was saying, 'I could help you do this, or I could help you do that,' and I was like, 'All right, let's it see it then.'

"She volunteered to be the coach and it was awesome. We got the guys together and its been real good."

As it turned out, the Under 16 national tournament site this year was Clarksville, Summitt's hometown. This good fortune presented another opportunity for mom and son; a chance to play in front of family that rarely, if ever, see Tyler play.

"My cousin Casey (Atteberry) played basketball (at Cheatham County), and they were always talking about her and I was three hours away in Knoxville," Tyler said. "And now I get a chance to come here and play, so it's been good to have support."

Tyler is also enjoying playing in front of his grandmother.

"She might try to coach a little bit from the sidelines, but they're great support and they're coming out for me and my mom," Tyler said.

Tyler is soaking in the moment, but he's not alone.

"It was a great honor for me," said Indiana SYF Players coach Jeff Allen, who earlier in the day watched his team beat the Heat 62-51. "I have young daughters at home, and they all watch Tennessee play on TV and they can't wait until they can possibly have a moment where they can play for a great coach like that.

"I'm going to tell my daughter that I shook hands and talked to her, because my one daughter is a huge fan, and she's hoping someday that maybe she will be on that sideline with coach Summitt."

Playing for an legend

Allen understands the significance of playing for a coaching icon. He groomed his playing and coaching skills under the management of legendary DePaul coach Ray Meyer.

"He was a great coach and he taught a lot of life lessons to me about things other than basketball, which I'm sure coach Summitt does with her players," Allen said. "So years down the line, they (Lady Vols) will probably remember her like I do coach Ray."

Life in Knoxville

Summitt's impact on women's basketball goes well beyond her seven national championships. She is the winningest coach in Division I-A college basketball history — men or women — and will eclipse 1,000 career wins within the next two seasons.

Around Knoxville and the UT campus, basketball has found its way to the top of the hierarchy, these days even overshadowing football. Much of the credit belongs to Summitt, but she doesn't mind sharing the attention with men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl, who has elevated the Vols into a SEC contender and a regular in the NCAA Tournament.

"It's been tremendous to have a coach like Bruce Pearl come in with his passion, his energy level, his day-to-day commitment to getting it done. I thoroughly have enjoyed getting to know Bruce and I think he's got a great basketball mind," Summitt said.

"I think he's a great motivator. He's innovative in how he does things, but he also has the ability to communicate with the young men he coaches and inspires. (He's) unlike anyone else that I've watched coach there."

Summitt's team drops 2 straight

Early foul trouble makes comeback too much for Heat

Simply playing in the Under 16 AAU national basketball tournament has been a new experience for the West Virginia Rush.

But in their wildest dreams, the Rush never imagined they would play a team under the guidance of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt.

Needing a win after losing their first pool game early Friday, the Rush outscored the Tennessee Heat 17-4 in the third quarter and posted a 53-36 win Friday evening at Rossview High School.

The Rush still have a chance to finish in the top half of their pool, which would advance them to the championship bracket, beginning Sunday. But they have to beat the Indiana SYF Players today.

"We won the state championship in West Virginia and we came down here, and this has been a new, exciting adventure for us," Rush coach Tony Lucas said. "They've played their hearts out all season long for us, and tonight was just icing on the cake.

"I never dreamed in my life that I would coach against Pat Summitt. That was really great and our guys, they had no clue they would ever play against her."

Three players scored in double figures for the Rush, led by Ryan Powers' 15 points. Michael Fortune and Shawn Wood scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.

"We had a team meeting before we came here basically trying to get them to calm down," Lucas said. "We knew who they were going to be playing against, so naturally they were a little nervous and uptight."

The Heat have one pool game remaining today against NE Maine, and will play in the single-elimination classic bracket beginning Sunday regardless of the outcome.

Foul trouble and turnovers neutralized the Heat's offensive effort, and gave the Rush too many scoring opportunities in the paint and from the free-throw line.

"We had three starters in foul trouble early and we just fouled too much," Summitt said. "This team played a lot harder than we did. They were the more aggressive team and I think they were certainly the more disciplined team taking care of the ball and not fouling."

The Heat's Trever Pryor sat out most of the first half with foul trouble and finished with 11 points before fouling out with 3:39 remaining in the fourth. Donovan Whiteside also fouled out in the fourth quarter, and finished with two points.

Despite foul trouble, the Heat found themselves tied with Rush at 10-10 after the first quarter. Turnovers and fouls continued to mount against the Heat, and the Rush took advantage, building a 24-18 lead at halftime.

Using their 17-4 scoring advantage in the third, the Rush built a comfortable 41-22 margin going into the fourth. They were in control until the Heat made the game interesting in the opening minutes of the fourth.

Using a 9-0 run, the Heat climbed back into the game and trailed 41-31 on Whiteside's basket with 4:41 remaining. Fortune's basket stopped the Heat scoring spree, and the loss of Pryor and Whiteside to fouls ended any chance of a comeback.

Players nip Summitt's Tennessee Heat

Turnovers cost Summitt's team in early game

Not wanting to start their weekend off the wrong way, the Indiana SYF Players rediscovered why defense helps win championships.

SYF Players held the Tennessee Heat without a basket from the floor in the first 5:47 of the fourth quarter, and turned a tight game into a 62-51 win in Pool B action in the Under 16 AAU national tournament Friday afternoon at Austin Peay's Dunn Center.

Scott Wood turned consecutive Heat turnovers into a dunk and 3-pointer early in the quarter, allowing the SYF Players to shift the game's momentum.

"Our coach was on us the whole game because we weren't playing our usual defense," said Wood, a 6-foot-5 forward out of Marion, Ind. "We didn't have the whole month of June, because that's the period you're with your high school team. Coach said if we didn't pick it up then, we were going to get beat. We didn't want to start our weekend off like that."

Wood finished with 17 points, while John Taylor and Marcus Jackson scored 11 points each.

The Heat were paced by Trever Pryor's 25 points. Donovan Whiteside had nine.

"Against pressure we made some ill-advised decisions, we turned the ball over too much," Heat coach Pat Summitt said. "We played too much one-on-one. We put ourselves in the position to play even, or even get up on them a couple of times, because I thought we executed a lot better offensively.

"But we gave up a lot of paint points off dribble penetration and obviously not doing a great job of blocking out."

The Heat led once early in the first quarter, and were within striking distance for the game's first 26 minutes. SYF Players led 13-12 after the first quarter, pulled out to a seven-point lead early in the second, only to watch the Heat pull within 30-29 at the half.

"They (Heat) are a well-coached team and well disciplined and we really didn't play well defensively in the first half, at least as well as I would like," SYF Players coach Jeff Allen said. "I thought our athleticism in the fourth quarter finally got us to where we needed to be. We got in the open floor and created some opportunities for ourselves."

The game was tied twice in the third quarter, and the two teams exchanged the lead five times. The Heat led by three on four occasions only to watch the Players answer each time. Jackson's layup with 20 seconds left tied the game at 44 going in the fourth.

Wood's dunk off a turnover with 6:50 remaining, followed by his 3-pointer off a turnover seconds later, shifted the advantage to SYF Players.

"Scott Wood is a talented athlete and Scott had struggled with his shot earlier in the game, but he's the kind of kid that when he's open he can really kill you and bury that 3," Allen said. "He really helped us in the fourth quarter."

Summitt agreed Wood's five points off turnovers came at a crucial moment.

"It's a game of momentum and they generated a lot of momentum just through beating us to the paint and getting good shots, and also off their defense," Summitt said.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Summitt enjoys chance to coach son

Lady Vols leader heads up AAU team in national event

CLARKSVILLE, TN — In some of the darker days surrounding the men's basketball program at Tennessee, there was an occasional whisper about asking Pat Summitt if she could do something to resurrect the program.

A list of promising coaches who failed to deliver had Vol fans wondering if the woman responsible for fostering the development of women's basketball could do the same for the Vols.

Summitt was never asked to coach a men's basketball team, not that she couldn't, or wouldn't be interested, and Tennessee fans couldn't be any happier.

The Lady Vols won their seventh national title under Summitt's guidance this past season, and the legendary coach could surpass 1,000 career wins in the next two seasons.

For every achievement credited to Summitt, there was still the idea of coaching a men's basketball team. That, however, became reality when her son Tyler approached her back in May about coaching his team.

It's hard for a mom to turn down a son's request.

Summitt will coach the Tennessee Heat in the Under 16 AAU National Basketball Tournament, beginning today at seven sites around Clarksville.

"I grew up with three older brothers, all that are here tonight, and it's just playing basketball," said Summitt, who spoke at the Clarksville Country Club Thursday evening, along with former Vol Dane Bradshaw, who is touring the state to promote his book 'Vertical Leap.' "It's teaching people. Could I coach a men's team? Yes. Do I have a desire to coach a men's team at the college level? No.

"I think my passion has always been coaching women's basketball and making a difference in the women's game. We had to grow by leaps and bounds and the men's game — it has been established for so many years. To be able to, in some small way, be able to make a difference is big for me."

Summitt is the second renowned women's college basketball personality to coach their son's AAU team in a national basketball tournament in Clarksville. Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma coached his son Michael and the Connecticut Nike Elite three years ago.

"At the time when he (Auriemma) was doing it, I thought that was really neat, but I never thought about doing it myself," Summitt said. "I never thought about being asked by my son."

Coaching Tyler and the Heat wouldn't have been a reality without Summitt's coaching staff. The AAU national tournament, along with some of the qualifying tournaments, fell right into the heart of recruiting season.

"I talked to my staff about it, and I told them if I can coach Tyler, that's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I would love to do it," Summitt said. "I talked to some of the parents to make sure they were comfortable with it and everyone was like 'Yes, that would be great,' so we started meeting and practicing. I've had a great time with it."

Being the point guard for your mom's team doesn't entitle you to any preferential treatment.

"At that time, he's my player, he's my point guard and I'm coaching him just like all of the guys on his team," Summitt said. "I'm not going to alter my coaching style because its my son or because of the team he plays on."

Two years ago, Clarksville was the host site for the Under 15 national tournament, a venue that was deep in college prospects, including Derrick Rose, Nicholas Calathes, Damian Saunder, Jon Diebler, Maurice Miller and Nate Miles.

Summitt knows what's in store for the Heat, a team made of players mostly from Knoxville Webb, along with a few other Knoxville schools.

"We know we are going to play against guys that probably could go straight to the pros," Summitt said.

Returning to Clarksville is always special for Summitt, who grew up on the family farm near the Cheatham-Montgomery County line. This trip is more significant with the Lady Vols coming off their first national title in nine seasons. Tennessee finished 34-3, beating Rutgers 59-46 in the national title game.

"I think it was really very special for a lot of reasons. One, for our fans, they've been so loyal and stayed in there," Summitt said. "We've been so close, but hadn't been able to cut down the nets in nine years."

This season, the Lady Vols featured the nation's top player in center Candace Parker, along with a supporting cast that equaled some of Summitt's other national title teams.

"Having a go-to player like Candace Parker, and having a Nicky Anosike, who did the dirty work on the boards. Alexis Hornbuckle, who did not shoot the ball well in postseason, but provided great leadership and great defensive intensity," Summitt said. "People brought what they did best at the right time."


* The Tennessee Heat will play two games today, one Saturday:

Game 1

When: 1:30 p.m., today.
Teams: Tennessee Heat vs. Indiana SYF Players.
Where: APSU Dunn Center

Game 2

When: 7:30 p.m., today.
Teams: Tennessee Heat vs. West Virginia Rush.
Where: Rossview High School.

Game 3

Teams: Tennessee Heat vs. NE Maine Tide of Maine.
When: 1:30 p.m., Saturday.
Where: Rossview High School

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

DeMoss named newest Women's Basketball assistant coach

AUSTIN, Texas -- University of Texas women’s basketball head coach Gail Goestenkors completed her staff Tuesday with the hiring of Mickie DeMoss, head coach at The University of Kentucky from 2003-07 and an associate head coach at The University of Tennessee from 1985-2003.

DeMoss’s appointment is effective July 15, 2007.

Considered one of the top coaches in women’s basketball, DeMoss compiled a 71-56 record, including consecutive 20-win seasons, and three post-season appearances (one NCAA and two WNIT) while the Kentucky Wildcats head coach. She was 2005-06 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year. DeMoss’ teams attracted record attendance figures during her time as head coach. Every one of her players who completed their eligibility graduated as well.

Under legendary head coach Pat Summitt, DeMoss was part of six NCAA national championship efforts and 13 NCAA Final Four appearances as part of the Lady Vols coaching staff, and was considered among the most effective recruiters in the nation.

Prior to her time at Tennessee, she was assistant coach at Auburn University (1983-85) and at Memphis State (1977-79) and was a head coach at The University of Florida (1979-83). DeMoss received her undergraduate degree at Louisiana Tech University in 1977 and a master’s degree in education at Memphis State University in 1979.

"Months ago, I left the coaching profession -- to retire, really -- and take my first break from the game of basketball," DeMoss said. "It was not an easy decision, but one I truly needed to make.

"My time off was substantial. It was unprecedented in my past personal history. These months allowed me to reassess what I wanted to do. I learned what my personal comfort zone and preferences would be in any work environment.

"There were many opportunities presented to me, not all of which were in sports," DeMoss concluded. "Frankly, the situation at Texas is the only job in basketball that would take me out of retirement. I am very comfortable with this decision to move forward and to work for Gail and The University."

"We have a strong, experienced staff of assistant coaches, and all of us are excited to take on the challenges ahead," noted Goestenkors. "We have individuals familiar with building championship teams, and that is what Texas stands for -- excellence."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Pat Summitt wins another award

University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt has been named the 2007 Dick Enberg Award winner by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Coach Summitt received her award July 1 at the San Diego Hotel and Marina Hotel as part of the 19th annual CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame® induction ceremonies. With Dick Enberg in London at Wimbledon, the award will be presented by his nephew, Jon.

Established in 1997, the Dick Enberg Award is given annually to a person whose actions and commitment have furthered the meaning and reach of the Academic All-America Teams Program and/or the student-athlete while promoting the values of education and academics.

The award was created in part to recognize Enberg's passion and support of the CoSIDA Academic All-America® program for more than 20 years, as well as his dedication to education for more than four decades.

1999 Dean Smith
2000 Bill Russell
2001 Donna Shalala
2002 Alan Page
2003 Tom Osborne
2004 Ted Leland
2005 Father Theodore Hesburgh
2006 Pres. Gerald R. Ford
2007 Pat Summitt